Preparatory News

To Inspire So That All Flourish

ST DUNSTAN'S COLLEGE - Preparatory News

Michaelmas Term: Issue 4

Dear Parents, Girls and Boys,

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them”.

– Extract from the poem “For the Fallen” by Robert Laurence Binyon –

Today we honour all those who fell during WWI. Remembrance Day commemorates the armistice signed between the Allies and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front, which took effect at 11:00am – the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

The day serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by servicemen and women to protect the values of freedom and peace. It’s an opportunity for people to reflect on the impact of war, express gratitude for the courage and dedication of those who served, and strive for a future where conflicts can be resolved peacefully. It’s crucial to remember the human cost of war and work towards a world where such sacrifices become a thing of the past.

The red poppy has become a symbol of Remembrance Day, inspired by the famous war poem “In Flanders Fields” written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae during World War I. The poem describes how poppies grew amidst the graves of soldiers in Flanders, a region in Belgium heavily affected by the war. The bright red color of the poppy flowers against the backdrop of war-torn landscapes left a lasting impression.

On another note, the Jacaranda trees are in full bloom. While waiting for the purple outburst, trepidation often followed… This was an indication that one needed to “buckle down” and do some serious studying. It was often said that when the Jacaranda’s started blooming, it was too late. I disagree – it is never too late. Well, to our grade six and seven pupils who started with their exams this week – go for it! I am sure you will reap the rewards that often come with hard work. Having said this, however, I would like to emphasise the following: 

Schools by their very nature often celebrate and acknowledge outstanding performances. While this is wonderful and something we need to continue doing, there is the other side to this coin. There are those that just don’t fit, don’t seem to achieve, don’t make friends easily, seem to struggle academically, or have two left feet. Parents sometimes come to my office absolutely distraught. They are at their wits end.  

Discussions often revolve around some chemical intervention, perhaps a home school environment, serious psychological analysis…my goodness, the list is endless. To these parents I say the following. Thank God for your special gift. Each and every child is precious and ALL have special talents. It is up to us to discover them. There are many books written on “how to raise kids” (how many work?). Sometimes the best advice I can give is to “just wrap them in cotton-wool” and get them over these hurdles. While in no way disputing early forms of intervention, I do suggest that we as adults often raise expectations to a point where our children bear the brunt of this and the resultant pressures are telling.

As I have said in numerous newsletters it is said that those children who are diligent, those who work hard at school, those who go to university and those who get good marks, will be the ones who succeed in life. Yes, this is true for many – working hard pays off. However, what about those who are different, those who are creative or those who feel just plain ordinary? No matter what you see your child as, your child can change the world too, by just changing their own world. Discovering their passion, discovering who they are and having someone believe in them, is sometimes all that is takes to make that difference. 

– Mr Craig McIlrath –

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

   John McCrae (1872-1918)